email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
10 Minute Solution: High Intensity Interval Training12 and Holding3-In-1 Total Body Fitness with Desi Bartlett30 Minute Ab & Butt Blaster4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days49 Up5 Day Fit Yoga5 Mega Miles with Toning Band56 UpA Beautiful MindA Dangerous MethodA Mother's Courage: Talking Back to AutismA Short Stay in SwitzerlandA.M. EnergyAbout SchmidtAccessible Yoga for Every Body DVDAddictionAdvanced Sexual TechniquesAgeless Mobility: Pain-Free Wellness For LongevityAileen - Life and Death of a Serial KillerAlexander the LastAM/PM YogaAmerican TeacherAthlete's Guide to YogaAutism and MeBack in Action: Yoga for a Healthy BackBalanced AssetsBeautiful DreamersBecoming OrgasmicBedroom Body: Booty Burner, Core & Pelvic Floor WorkoutBeginners Meditation & Mindful StretchingBeginners Yoga DVDBeginning YogaBellyFit ElementsBethenny's Skinnygirl WorkoutBetter Sex Through YogaBeyond HatredBilly the KidBlue Is the Warmest ColorBody By BethennyBorn to Balance - Balance BasicsBoy InterruptedBoys Don't CryBreasts - A DocumentaryBreath-Centered YogaBuying SexCalm Body Clear MindCardio for Beginners with Petra KolberCinema's Sinister PsychiatristsCinema, Philosophy, BergmanCinematic MythmakingClassical Pilates Technique DVDClimatesCoastCollege Inc.Comedy IncarnateCommuneCompulsionControlCore Fusion - Pilates PlusCore Fusion - Pure Abs & ArmsCore Fusion - Thighs & GlutesCore Fusion Body SculptCore Fusion Lean & TonedCore Fusion Power SculptCore Strength PilatesCore Strength Vinyasa Yoga Power Hour with Sadie NardiniCore YogaCreative Core AbsCriminal JusticeCriminal Justice 2DahmerDance Off the Inches: Cardio Hip Hop PartyDance the Chakras Yoga WorkoutDark Beginnings of Sherlock HolmesDarwin's Brave New WorldDeep Stretch / Yin YogaDetox YogaDirty Filthy Love DVDDoc Martin Series 2Dr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Eating WellDr. Yoga House CallEl Doctor, Joy Street & AsparagusElement: Targeted Toning Pilates for BeginnersElement: Yoga for Stress Relief & FlexibilityElements of Yoga, Earth FoundationsElements of Yoga, Fire DynamicElements of Yoga: Air & WaterEnjoying Guilty PleasuresEternal Sunshine Of The Spotless MindEternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindEthics at the CinemaEvamarie Pilipuf's Yoga Express DVDEvery Day Yoga for Every Body DVDEveryday Workout for the Everyday WomanEveryday Yoga for Stress Release Examined LifeExhale Core Fusion 30 Day SculptExileExperimenterFacing Death: Elisabeth Kubler-RossFagbugFamily YogaFilm StudiesFire on the Mountain DVDFit Family Fun CircuitFit in 5 DVDFlat Abs PilatesFlow and YinFlow YogaFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFragile DVDGabriel & MeGaiam Pilates Slide and Sculpt Kit with DVDGaiam Pilates Total Toning KitGaiam Yoga For Weight Loss KitGet Ripped & ChiseledGirl, InterruptedGirlhoodGoddess WorshipGood FortuneHalf Broken ThingsHappy Yoga DVDHard CandyHealing Through Movement: Pilates Head to ToeHealing VoicesHealthy Sexy Beautiful Kundalini YogaHeimaHelvetica: A documentary filmHemalayaa's Yoga for Young Bodies DVDHemalayaa: Bollywood BootyHer ThirdHigh HopesHit & MissHot Body Cool Mind - Level 1Hot Body Cool Mind: Waking Energy IdentityIn My SkinIn the FamilyIn the Land of the DeafIn the Realms of the UnrealIn Treatment: Season 1Ingmar Bergman, Cinematic PhilosopherInsight Yoga Earth: Balancing Yin EnergyInsight Yoga Heaven: Balancing YangInsight Yoga with Sarah PowersIntense Games DVDInto Great SilenceIntroduction to Ashtanga Yoga DVDIntroduction to Yoga DVDIt's Kind of a Funny StoryIt's Not Me, I Swear!Janis Saffell Beverly Hills YogaJellyfishJulien Donkey-BoyJunebugKama-Sutra--The Secrets to the Art of LoveKids Teach Yoga - Flying EagleKidYogi - Yoga for ChildrenKingdom Series 2Kingdom: Series ThreeKripalu Yoga Dynamic DVDKripalu Yoga Gentle DVDKundalini Yoga : DVDKundalini Yoga for Beginners & BeyondKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - MONDAYKUNDALINI YOGA for Your Week - TUESDAY - CoreKundalini Yoga Meditation for Beginners & BeyondKundalini Yoga on the BallKundalini Yoga Solar Power All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVDKundalini Yoga Transformer All-In-One WorkoutKundalini Yoga: Green Energy of the HeartLa SierraLand GirlsLand Girls Series 2Lars and the Real GirlLast Train HomeLeaving Las VegasLetting Go!Lie to Me: Season OneLife On MarsLifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues--Level 1LifeForce Yoga to Beat the Blues: Level 2Listening to the WorldLiving Room Yoga DVDLiving Room Yoga: Twist and BendLouise BourgeoisLunacyLunar Flow YogaMad, Bad and Dangerous?MaidentripManicManufactured LandscapesMaui PilatesMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for Back PainMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for IBSMayo Clinic Wellness Solutions for InsomniaMementoMethadoniaMindfulness for Urban Depression: Tools for Relief from Stressful City LivingMonsterMother and SonMovies and the Moral Adventure of LifeMurderballMurderlandMurphy's LawMurphy's Law Series 2My Flesh and BloodMy Sister's KeeperMysterious CreaturesNamaste Yoga: Season 3 Part 1New American TeenagersNew Look at ADHD: Inhibition, Time, and Self-ControlNew Sex Now DVDNew Takes in Film-PhilosophyNew York PilatesNext-Level PilatesNormalNotes on a ScandalNurembergOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestOrgasm Inc.Pain Free at WorkPeople Like OurselvesPeople Love PhotosPerfect in Ten AbsPerfect in Ten: PilatesPerfect in Ten: StretchPerfect in Ten: YogaPhantom Museums DVDPhilosophy and the Moving ImagePhrenologyPieces of AprilPilates for BeginnersPilates for MenPink Ribbons, Inc.PollockPop & MePornographyPornographyPower to the Peaceful YogaPower YogaPower Yoga for HappinessPower Yoga: Core PowerPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPower Yoga: Strength and FlexibilityPrenatal FlowPresence Through Movement: Yin YogaPrince of PrisonersPrivate Dicks - Men ExposedPrivate Practices DVDProofProzac NationPsycho ThrillersPublic EnemiesPure and Simple YogaPure SculptPure Yoga Pilates with Kerry BestwickQi Gong Fire & Water With Matthew CohenQi Gong Flow for BeginnersQi Gong for Low Back PainQi Gong for Upper Back and Neck PainQi Gong for Weight LossQi Workout AM/PMQiGong for Healthy Joints & BonesQuick Blast MethodRachel Getting MarriedRadiant Heart Yoga DVDRain ManRated X - A Journey Through PornReach - Upbeat Toning & Flexibility for a Dancer's BodyRed Lotus YogaRelative StrangersRelax Into Yoga for SeniorsRequiem for a Dream DVDResistance Stretching With Dara TorresRestorative Yoga PracticeRestorative Yoga PracticeSara Ivanhoe's Taste DVDScreening SexSeeing Fictions in FilmSeeing the LightSergeant Cribb - The Complete SeriesSeven Challenges To Change Your Life DVDShameShort Term 12SickoSmashedSolar Flow Yoga DVDSpeakSpecial TreatmentSpectacular NowStarting Out in the EveningStep By Step Strength TrainingStep by Step Tai ChiStephen Fry in AmericaStrandedStranger Than FictionStrength & SpiritStrength, Grace, HealingStrong & SculptedStrong Body, Ageless BodySun SalutationsSunset StorySuper Seniors: Box, Balance, & Lift Surf Yoga SoulSybel's Yoga For Sports & FitnessSybel's Yoga For Sports & Fitness Vol 2SylviaSynecdoche New YorkTai Chi for Beginners with Grandmaster William C. C. ChenTarnationTeen YogaTeenYogi DVDTemple GrandinTen Zen Tummy TonersTerrence MalickThe Athlete's Guide to YogaThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Big Book of PornThe Booty Barre -Total New BodyThe Breath of Tantric LoveThe ClassThe Devil and Daniel JohnstonThe Devil, ProbablyThe f WordThe f WordThe f WordThe F Word - Series ThreeThe f Word -- Series FourThe FIRM Power Yoga DVDThe Horse BoyThe Matrix and PhilosophyThe Medicated ChildThe Perfect ExerciseThe Philosophy of Motion PicturesThe Power of ForgivenessThe Qi Healing KitThe ReaderThe SavagesThe Snake PitThe Stanford Prison ExperimentThe Street Complete CollectionThe Suicide TouristThe Three Faces of EveThe Ultimate BALLET YOGAThe Way Way BackThinThinking XXXThis Emotional Life: In Search of Ourselves...and HappinessThrough A Dog's EyesThrough Deaf EyesThumbsuckerTierney GearonTo the WonderToday and TomorrowTotal-Body ToningTransTransform Yourself with Jivamukti YogaTrial and RetributionTrial and Retribution: Set 1Trial and Retribution: Set 3Trudie Styler's Cardio Dance FlowTrudie Styler's Warrior YogaUnborn in the USA: Inside the War on AbortionUnderstanding LoveUnforgettableUp the YangtzeV-Core WorkoutViniyoga Therapy for AnxietyViniyoga Therapy for DepressionViniyoga Therapy for the Low Back, Sacrum and HipsViniyoga Therapy for the Upper Back, Neck and ShouldersWaking LifeWalk It Off in 30 DaysWalk to the HITS Radio RemixesWall: A World DividedWeight Loss Cardio KickWhat Remains: The Life and Work of Sally MannWhat to Do When Someone DiesWhen Did You Last See Your Father?When Worlds Collide: The Untold Story of the Americas after ColumbusWrinklesWristcutters: A Love StoryWrong Side of the BusYin Yoga DVDYogaYoga & Pilates Workouts for DummiesYoga 4 TeensYoga : Beginners Flow for EveryoneYoga Beauty BodyYoga Bliss HipsYoga Body : Lean & Defined Total Body WorkoutYoga By Teens DVDYoga Emergency DVD: Arms & ShouldersYoga Emergency DVD: BackYoga Emergency DVD: Full Leg StretchYoga Emergency DVD: HipsYoga Emergency DVD: PregnancyYoga Flow DVDYoga for Back CareYoga for BeginnersYoga for Energy & Stress ReliefYoga for FitnessYoga for Regular Guys DVDYoga for Strength & EnergyYoga for Strength & FlexibilityYoga for the Young at HeartYoga for Your WeekYoga Inside Out: Go DeeperYoga Inside Out: The Healing WayYoga Journal's Yoga for StressYoga Journal: Yoga for Strength and Toning DVDYoga Link: Core IntegrationYoga Link: Hip HelpersYoga Link: Shoulder Shape-UpYoga on DemandYoga Quick FixesYoga SculptYoga ShaktiYoga Therapy for Back PainYoga Therapy Prescriptions - 60 Health Restorative SequencesYoga To Go's Yoga Quick Fixes DVDYoga to the Rescue - Feel Good from Head to ToeYoga to the Rescue for Back PainYoga to the Rescue for Neck & ShouldersYoga Weight Loss for DummiesYoga: Freedom from Back PainYoga: Relief from Neck and Shoulder PainYoga: Spirit of Vinyasa FlowYogawomanYoung@HeartYour Body Breakthru - Your Best Body Circuit DVD
The first thing to note about his book is that it belongs firmly within the context of Film studies / Popular Culture. It is not about the unconscious meanings of pornography-which would place it in a clinical setting. Nor is it a about the lives of those involved in pornography-which would place it in the context of either sociology or, possibly, psychology. It is a series of essays about different aspects of pornographic films--or, more accurately, pornography in film. (And is there a difference, one wonders?) Thus there is little discussion about moral aspects of pornography in film- although this is touched on. Nor is there any discussion about aspects of exploitation -- who is exploiting whom in the porn industry? (In Robert Stoller's book "Porn: Myths For The Twentieth Century. [Yale University Press, 1991])" the porn makers and stars are clear that they are the exploiters -- not the exploited.) For me these were omissions that I would have liked to have seen in this series of essays. It would have put pornography in film into some kind of context.
What does appear in the book are thirteen essays by writers involved in teaching film/ media/ cultural studies mainly in America. The essays are wide ranging. In his introduction Peter Lehman writes about "A Dirty Little Secret--Why Teach and Study Pornography?" His answer is that "... pornography can be complex, meaningful, and pleasurable and that it should be studied to enhance our understanding of sexuality and culture and not to fuel hysteria". (P.20) Essays then look at topics such as "Pornography: What Men See When They Watch" by Marty Klein, a sex therapist who argues that "... in pornography, men are able to consume the scarce commodity of female eroticism in ways that they aren't supposed to consume it in their nonporn daily life." He continues "While viewing porn, men can consume beauty in a direct, enthusiastic fashion and shamelessly acknowledge their interest as blatantly sexual" (P.252)
Laura Kiplins, an American professor of Radio and T.V. Film, suggests in her essay "How To Look at Pornography" that "... pornography is revealing... It exposes culture to itself. Pornography is the royal road to the cultural psyche... so the question is, if you put it on the couch and let it free associate, what is it really saying? What are the inner tensions and unconscious conflicts that propel its narrative?" (P.119) And one of the things that pornography's unconscious associating might reveal, she suggests, is that "Pornography's favorite terrain is the spot where the individual psyche collides with the historical process of molding social subjects." (P.122) Thus for Kiplins, pornography functions as a kind of court jester, saying the unsayable and being allowed to get away with this because of its distinctive role in the social court.
Linda Williams, the former director of the film studies program at University of California-Berkley, writes about "Generic Pleasures: Number and Narrative" where she draws some fascinating parallels between "necessary" set pieces in a pornographic film and their counterpart in a mainstream musical. So she writes "Masturbation, for example, can be seen as a solo song or dance of self love and enjoyment-a la the 'Singin' in the Rain' number in the musical of that name; straight sex is like a classic heterosexual duet- as in 'You were meant for Me', also from 'Singin' in the Rain'- with oral sex as a variation of this same theme..." Suddenly Mary Poppins seems much less innocent! What really went on between Julie Andrews and Dick Van-Dike? The duet 'It's a lovely holiday with Mary' now seems fraught with new and previously unconsidered possibilities! (It is too easy to mock Williams' point. When I thought more seriously about her essay her argument does make sense. In almost any porn film one can guarantee and predict a set menu of sequences to do parallel mainstream musicals.)
A feminist viewpoint is eloquently expressed in "Crackers and Whackers: The White Trashing of Porn" by Constance Penley who notes the bawdy humor to be found in pornographic films- a kind of adult pantomime but with sex as the central figure rather than the more conventional figures of panto. In my notes on this chapter I have commented that this essay suggest that "porn undermines the phallus and shows men getting their comeuppance" Penley puts her point thus "Given the enormous success of the feminist antiporn movement- and their strange bed fellows, the religious right-in shaping the current prevailing idea of porn as nothing but the degradation of women... it may be difficult to recognize that the tone of pornography ... is closer to Hee Haw than Nazi death camp fantasies." (P.103) To further illustrate her point she writes later in the same paper about the film "John Wayne Bobbitt, Uncut" --a porn film made out of the famous incident of Bobbitt having his penis cut off by his wife. "What's the moral of (this film)...for men? If you don't learn better sexual technique and start being more sensitive to your partner's needs, you're going to get yours cut off too, and, what's more, you'd deserve it!" (I can think of other "moral s" from this film. It can also be seen as representing the fear of the castrating, devouring mother who demands utter obedience from her little man-or else she will remove his 'little man' from him and literally as well as metaphorically, make it her own possession. But Penley is not writing from an explicitly analytic viewpoint and wants to make other points about the nature of pornography.)
There are other essays looking at filmic pornography form different perspectives. Henry Jenkins writes about Male-Male desire in Penthouse letters; Jose B. Capino writes about reading Asian pornography in his amusingly titled piece "Asian College Girls and Oriental Men with Bamboo Poles"; Daniel Bernadi writes about racism in pornography in his essay "Interracial Joysticks: Pornography's web of Racist Attractions".
Yet for all the fascinating papers I was till left with a sense of unease about this idea of pornography as no more or les than another cultural artifact. I saw Andrew Niccol's film "Lord of War" in which Nicolas Cage plays a gunrunner. Cage eulogizes about the beauty of various weapons; their accuracy; their fire power; their handling abilities but without ever quite mentioning that their sole aim is to kill people. After reading these essays I was left with a feeling that pornography is a bit like Cage's guns. That some films are beautiful is unarguable; that some films can make important moral points is also true. But what about the shadow side of pornography? Is it not exploitative of both its audience and its participants? What points does it make about the body when the bodies in question are only objects with no apparent feelings? And whilst we can study filmic pornography as a cultural artifact and liken it to "Singin in the Rain", what do we make of internet pornography where everything and anything seems to be available?
With that entirely personal proviso stated, I enjoyed this series of essays. It helped me to think about pornography in ways that I had not done previously and to consider its function in new ways. As a contribution to media studies /popular culture, this book has a good deal of interesting things to say. But it needs to be read with other essays looking at other ways in which pornography is used and the message it gives out. To continue Linda Kiplins' metaphor, I think that pornography would benefit from some more time on the couch. There are still areas of itself to which it remains unconscious-and which might do well to be brought into consciousness!
© 2008 Terry Burridge
Terry Burridge is a Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at Buckinghamshire New University. He has spent most of his professional life as a psychiatric nurse and now spends considerable time and energy trying to inspire future psychiatric nurses to be the best kinds of nurses that they can be! He is very much influenced by psychoanalytic thinking and sees analytic theory as offering a valuable critique to many other areas of human activity. He can be contacted at Terry@dancingbears.co.uk
Comment on this review